May 18, 2016
Manila- Multi-sectoral alliance Bantay Bigas today expressed their appreciation of the presumptive president’s statement through his spokesperson regarding his aim of rice self-sufficiency. The alliance however emphasized that there are fundamental requisites for the attainment of food security.
The alliance claims that free land distribution coupled with capital and input subsidies, post-harvest facilities and agricultural infrastructure development are basic to developing the country’s agriculture and in strengthening the country’s rice industry.
“Mayor Duterte should prioritize to implement a genuine land reform,” said Cathy Estavillo, spokesperson of Bantay Bigas. “Much of our productive agricultural lands are still under the monopoly control of landed families. We can never attain rice self-sufficiency and food security without first resolving the centuries-old problem of landlessness among farmers, “ Estavillo added.
The group also stated that it is imperative for strengthening the rice industry to veer away from the neo-liberal policy of liberalization of agriculture as well as privatization of the National Food Authority in all its forms.
“The liberalization of agriculture and the gradual privatization of the NFA has pushed our country to be dependent on imported rice,” said Estavillo. “The NFA must be strengthened for the agency to perform its mandate, especially its local palay procurement,” Estavillo added.
The group opined that NFA’s local buying capacity should be enough to buy at least 25% of the country’s local rice production to “significantly influence local rice traders and increase the probability of safe and affordable rice reaching the majority of Filipinos.”
The alliance also called on the presumptive president to address the problem of rice smuggling.
“Rice smuggling continues to cripple our local rice industry. It must be stopped to ensure that safe and affordable rice reaches the majority of Filipinos.”
The group ended by saying that past administrations have failed miserably to address the chronic rice crisis because they also failed to recognize and execute the fundamental requisites. They urged the next administration to not follow the same path. ###